The law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. successfully brought claims against Transocean and British Petroleum for a number of the injured seamen workering aboard the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the explosion.
On April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico a tragic explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon, a Transocean semi-submersible offshore drilling rig.
Besides Transocean, the other main players include British Petroleum, BP, and Halibertan, which did cement work, Anadarko Petroleum, one of the minority stakeholders in the well, and Cameron International, who was the manufacturer of a critical piece of safety equipment known as the blowout preventer. Each player tried to deflect liability claims along with blame. There was a lot of finger pointing.
After the tragedy, Transocean refused to acknowledge committing any mistakes that may have contributed to the disaster. Their approach was to blame-the-client and admit-no-wrong. Although nine of the 11 fatalities were Transocean men and 79 of the 126 people aboard the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded worked for Transocean, the company as of Mar. 31, 2011 hadn’t contributed a single dime into the $20 billion victims- compensation fund BP established. Shortly after attempting to minimize its payments to widows and survivors by filing papers in federal court in Houston seeking to use a 169-year-old maritime statute to cap the company’s liability for deaths and injuries at less than $27 million. Transocean announced plans to issue $1 billion in dividends to its shareholders. It even had the arrogance to declare in their annual report that 2010 had been “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” despite the death and destruction that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
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How did Transocean respond to criticism regarding its actions? Transocean has acted responsibly, says spokesman Brian J. Kennedy. Its been at the at the behest of our insurance underwriters and as a way to consolidate litigation that Transocean has acted to limit injury and death payouts. Concerned only about legal principle Transocean is not legally obliged to contribute to the BP fund.
On the other hand, BP, British Petroleum, who had six workers aboard the doomed offshore drilling rig established a $20 billion victims- compensation fund. In papers filed in court, BP lawyers have argued that Transocean’s missteps were the cause of the explosion since Transocean’s rig workers failed to recognize “clear and obvious warnings of a well control incident” on the evening of Apr. 20, 2010. To shift some of the blame and liability BP said: “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of the accident. Multiple companies, work teams, and circumstances were involved over time.” Interestingly, BP did concede that both its own on-site rig managers and members of the Transocean crew misread the important negative pressure test.
Transocean shot back in a June 22, 2010 investigative report alleging that BP used a risky well design, skimped on the heavy drilling mud needed to hold back high-pressure hydrocarbons, and kept changing its plans in a way that invited disaster.
In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard issued its own 288-page assessment of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, acknowledging the US government’s shortcomings in overseeing the offshore drilling rig. The agency also found lax maintenance, flawed safety culture, and faulty training by the rig’s workers that contributed to the lethal explosion. The US Coast Guard investigation, “revealed numerous systems deficiencies and acts and omissions by Transocean and its Deepwater Horizon crew that had an adverse impact on the ability to prevent or limit the magnitude of the disaster.”
Numerous investigations and hearings including seven JIT public hearings, testimony from more than 80 witnesses and experts, and the review of a large number of documents and exhibits pertaining to all aspects of the disaster finally resulted in, according to a Sept 2011 news report from BBC News, “A US federal report has blamed the worst oil spill in US history on "key missteps", poor leadership and a poor cement job by BP and its contractors."
The US federal report on the disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion with its loss of life, and resulting oil spill that occurred on April 20, 2010 mentioned in the BBC article was by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE)/U.S. Coast Guard Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
They scrupulously examined various causal factors between April 20-22, 2010 surrounding the initial explosion that resulted in a massive fire, the ultimate sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and the tragic loss of eleven crew members who were aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico.
The report is comprised of three sections: Volume I, which covers the areas of investigation under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard; Volume II, covering the areas of the investigation under BOEMRE jurisdiction; and a supplement to Volume I – the Final Action Memo from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.
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